Dear Dating Coach,
I have been dating someone for a while. We have gone out multiple times and I really like him. We have easy conversations, he is smart, a mentch, and I feel like we have similar goals. But when I think of marriage, I panic. I have no idea if I am ready, or if he is the right one. I feel a lot of pressure from my family, the shadchan, and even his family, to commit-and that just adds to the stress I am feeling. Is it better to just walk away now if I don’t know? I don’t want to hurt him if this doesn’t work out. Please help.
Cut and Run
Warning; if you are squeamish, you might want to skip this part. A while back, my husband picked up the baby for a quick diaper change. He prepared all the essentials and then got to work. Almost immediately though, he held up his hands, and innocently asked “did the baby get into chocolate?” We all looked up and saw that his hands were in fact covered in “chocolate” and so was the baby. Then his sense of smell kicked in and horror and understanding dawned. His hands were covered in something…but it sure wasn’t chocolate. (Soap, purell, repeat!)
Life Is Like…
I hear you. You are dating someone and it is going well. You have dated for a significant amount of time and now the chorus of family members have elected to chime in with their unsolicited advice and opinions. Certainly, they explain, you should be “sure” by now and “when can they book their tickets, next Sunday works well, and don’t forget to invite great-aunt Sadie…you remember that ‘you know who’ forgot to invite her last time.” You tell yourself that you are now an adult and are not influenced by the pressure that they are so generously offering you, but still, you feel the weight on your already tense shoulders. You are not there yet. You don’t have a guarantee that you will ever get there. Perhaps it is better if you walk away now. You don’t want to hurt this wonderful guy that you know has already made up his mind. Isn’t asking him for more time without a guarantee that you will marry him selfish? Furthermore, the pressure of everyone else’s feelings, leaves no room for your own feelings to grow. So here you are; stuck and miserable.
A Box Of Chocolates…
Time to take a step back. This is the time to refocus and to take your dating story back into your own hands. You were set up with a great guy. You connect on many levels and you have never felt this kind of comfort with anyone else. This lucky guy has been blessed with clarity- the surety that he wants to move forward with you. You have become so overwhelmed by outside pressure, that your feelings can’t possibly develop.
Today, you can take back control over this process by refocusing on ME: Mindfulness and Emotions.
Practice M, mindfulness, by being fully present in your dates. Do not allow external family pressure to influence the length of time that you date, or the expectation of feelings in that amount of time. Instead, focus on your date, engage completely in your conversations and connection. Leave your family at home. Then E, concentrate on your emotions and your heart. Encourage yourself to allow feelings in. Does he look nice? Smell nice? Notice his kindness, his charm, and the ease that you feel in his presence. Don’t let the threat of vulnerability or potential hurt impede your desire to connect. Focus on ME and take ownership of your dating process.
You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get.
There is always a risk in dating. We cannot control how someone else feels, and every single dater understands that there will always be the possibility of pain should a shidduch not work out the way that they hoped. That being said, it is presumptuous for you to try to manage his emotions. He is an adult, capable of being responsible for his own feelings and the risk of hurt that they carry. The chance that you will feel as he does eventually, definitely warrants that risk for him. Even with “chocolate” potential. Refocus instead on ME, on being present and emotionally engaged and you may be surprised by how quickly you connect equally. Never walk away from an opportunity so precious without being sure that you have given ME the chance that it deserves.